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Ahmadinejad. Not afraid
Photo: Reuters
West unable to act against Iran, Ahmadinejad says
Day after end of deadline to halt uranium enrichment and in light of possibility of additional sanctions, Ahmadinejad says 'sanctions will hurt Western countries more than they will hurt us'

The Western powers are unable to act against Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday morning, the day after the end of a deadline set by the UN Security Council to halt its nuclear program.

 

On the backdrop of the increase in the United States' military pressure, as nine warships arrived in the Persian Gulf, Ahmadinejad spoke in the city of Golpaygan and said that "the Iranians are living in faith and unity under the leadership of Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and therefore the world powers will not be able to make life difficult for them."

 

On Thursday, the Iranian president ruled out out even a brief halt in his country's nuclear program, saying it would hand a victory to the country's enemies who seek to prevent Iran from becoming a world power.

 

The ISNA news agency reported that the Iranian president referred to the Security Council's resolutions as "having no influence."

 

According to Ahmadinejad, "These sanctions will surely hurt them (the Western countries) more than they hear us, and will bear no fruit."

  

Ahmadinejad's outburst followed Wednesday's report by the UN nuclear watchdog that said Iran has expanded its controversial uranium enrichment program in defiance of UN demands for a suspension. The report could set the stage for a third round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.

 

The Iranian president is currently visiting the Isfahan region, where the nuclear facility for uranium enrichment is located. At the moment it is unclear whether he plans to visit the facility, but inspectors of the UN nuclear agency are visiting the site these days.

 

Mohammad Saidi, head of the International Department of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Thursday that the inspectors were visiting the Isfahan facility according to the decisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and that they would move on from there to the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz.

  

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, aimed only at developing energy, and has touted it as a sign of its technological prowess. The United States and its allies contend it is secretly aiming to develop nuclear weapons.

 

But in a reflection of international divisions on how to handle the crisis, the US has lodged a complaint against the head of the UN nuclear agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, for suggesting that Iran be allowed to keep some elements of its uranium enrichment, diplomats said. Such comments could undermine efforts to pressure Iran into fully scrapping the program.

 

US President George W Bush said Thursday he would work with allies to beef up sanctions on Iran. ''We need to strengthen our sanctions regime,'' Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. Leaders of Iran ''continue to be defiant as to the demands of the free world.''

 

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